Phillies drop finale with Pirates
Bryce Harper finished 1-for-3 in the 6-0 loss. | Credit: James Paterson
Bryce Harper stood at a microphone placed in front of the Phillies dugout before the start of Sunday's home finale with the Pirates and told the near 30,000 fans in attendance that he hopes to see them back at Citizens Bank Park on Oct. 11. There was a buzz in the air. 
A little more than four hours later, the buzz was long gone. 
The Pirates shut out the Phils 6-0, snapping the club's five-game winning streak. 
"I thought being down by one [in the sixth] that we could have come back there later in the game, but that didn't happen," said Harper. He finished 1-for-3 on the afternoon with a single and an intentional walk. 
The Phillies were limited to just six hits on the afternoon, including just three over the final five frames. Overall, the club had just two runners reach second base and looked anemic at the plate. 
"We just never got the hit when we needed it," said skipper Joe Girardi. 
Hans Crouse, a 23-year-old right-hander, received word late Saturday night that he was going to start on Sunday for the Phillies. He joined the organization at the trade deadline in the deal that sent Spencer Howard to Texas. 
"I was nervous for sure and didn't get a whole lot of sleep last night," Crouse said with a laugh. "The biggest thing was wanting to embrace the emotions I felt out there today. I knew I was going to feel anxious and nervous, and I wanted to use that to my advantage and throw the game the way I know how."
Crouse surrendered a homer to Cole Tucker on the very first pitch he threw but settled down afterward to get out of the inning. 
"I was just trying to throw a strike," Crouse said. "I said to myself - well, that's one way to start a career - I'm happy with how I composed myself though and got two quick outs after that to get into a rhythm." 
Including Crouse, the Phillies used six hurlers on the afternoon that combined to issue 11 walks, two balks, two wild pitches, and a hit batter. 
The loss dropped the Phils to 5-2 on the final homestand of the season. A solid effort, but it may not be enough. The club sits 2 1/2 games behind the division-leading Braves with just six games remaining. 
"You get to the end of the year and look for an opportunity to get to the playoffs, and that's what we have right here," Girardi said. "It's exciting; we have a shot." 
The Phillies are off on Monday before opening a pivotal three-game set on Tuesday with the Braves. 
"We gotta' win one game on Tuesday, that's it," Girardi said. "That's how you have to look at it. Win one game Tuesday and see where you are at." 
The pitching matchups for the series feature Zach Wheeler vs. Charlie Morton on Tuesday, Aaron Nola vs. Max Fried on Wednesday, and Kyle Gibson vs. Ian Anderson in the finale. 
"As a whole, we are confident going into Atlanta," Harper said. "We have to go there and do our job and be ready to go with pitch one. We have to be good with all 27 outs."

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